I was very sad to hear the news of Basil Albury’s transition.
I first met him during my late father, Sir Clement Maynard’s, tenure as minister of tourism. It was a golden era for tourism in The Bahamas. Smart and enthusiastic young Bahamians held the key positions in tourism, the main engine of our economy. The leadership team comprised Permanent Secretary Ellison Thompson and Director General Baltron Bethel (now Sir Baltron). Basil Albury was a senior member of the team. They were supported by scores of brilliant and enthusiastic young Bahamians, two of whom became director general of tourism, and all of whom are (and those who have passed were) successes in the private and public spheres. Bahamas Tourist Offices, led by Bahamians, were opened in key American gateways. Tourism exploded. Bahamians were managers in the top hotels. Bahamian art, music and culture was showcased on all promotion trips. People to People commenced and was an immediate best seller on a visit to The Bahamas. Tourism and its linkages in all aspects of the economy was taught in schools. Basil Albury was a key part of the team that breathed incredible energy into the tourism sector. Tourists and Bahamians agreed that It’s Better in The Bahamas.
I was fortunate that he agreed to serve as director of investments when I was minister of financial services and investments. He brought to this position the same vision, enthusiasm and desire to positively impact Bahamians as he did in the ministry of tourism. His service in this position was enhanced by years of experience and success in the public and private sector. During that period, for the first time, visuals were used during the budget debate to show projects in progress, approved and under consideration on various Islands. I remember the surprise in Parliament and for those watching when the board with every island in The Bahamas as each major project was unveiled.
Basil Albury embraced every opportunity to ensure that investors clearly understood that Bahamian entrepreneurs had to be engaged. I can see him questioning investors, to verify economic impact, on the reports that they submitted. He and his team ensured that Bahamians could go to the ministry’s website to see the projects approved, operational and under consideration. Training and mentoring investment officers gave him great pleasure. A very important criterion in evaluating every project was how would that project positively impact Bahamians, especially young entrepreneurs. I can see him smiling as investment officers excelled. Many Bahamian entrepreneurs benefitted from his insight and guidance, which he freely shared.
He loved The Bahamas and loved helping people. I believe that this passion for helping people came from his love of the Lord. He was a devout Catholic and shared with me that before he met and fell in love with his lovely wife, Justice Cheryl Albury (retired), he wanted to be a priest. In 2016, His Holiness invested them as a knight and lady of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.
Steadily, we are losing the generation of Bahamians that breathed life into year-round tourism and ensured that Bahamians were celebrated and empowered in the tourism sector. Wherever and whenever he could, without seeking the limelight, Basil Albury did all that he could to uplift Bahamians.
Thank you, Sir Basil Albury, for your contributions to nation-building.
My family and I extend condolences to his wife, his daughters Candia Ferguson (now the director of investments) and Dr Caryn Albury, his grandchildren and his entire family.